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Japan: National Council on Social Security Holds 1st Meeting
Source: yomiuri.co.jp
Source Date: Saturday, December 01, 2012
Country: Japan
Created: Dec 04, 2012

The government's national council on social security reform held its first meeting Friday at the Prime Minister's Office to begin discussions about the future of the nation's social security system.

It took more than three months to launch the council, chaired by Keio University President Atsushi Seike. This was partly because of disagreements between the Democratic Party of Japan, the Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito over the timing of the dissolution of the House of Representatives.

The council will primarily discuss four fields: public pensions, medical care, nursing care and measures to cope with the chronically low birthrate. Political observers predict that pension and medical care for the elderly will be the main focus of the discussions as the DPJ's stance differs from that of the LDP and Komeito.

The council will hold its second meeting on Dec. 7 to start full-fledged discussions.

At the first meeting, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda told council members, "I want you to hold discussions that result in a firm sense of reassurance for the public."

The council was established under a law for the promotion of social security system reform, which was passed in August based on a policy agreement between the three parties. The DPJ had demanded to hold the meetings quickly, but the LDP was wary of meeting before the lower house election. As a result, they had been unable to select the council's members.

The law stipulates that the government shall take necessary legislative actions within one year of the law's enactment--by August next year--based on the council's conclusions. Effectively, this means the council will have about nine months for practical discussion.

However, some members at the first meeting complained that there is not enough time to address all the issues.

"It will be difficult [to finish] by August," said Prof. Hisao Endo of Gakushuin University at the first meeting.
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